How to plant lima beans

Phaseolus lunatus

Lima beans owe their name to the Spanish colonization period of Peru, when the shipments of this bean went to Europe in boxes with the place of origin marked as “Lima – Peru”. Thus they became known as lima beans.


The lima bean grows best in hot weather and can be grown in regions with temperatures between 18 ° C and 30 ° C throughout the plant’s growing cycle. Temperatures above 30 ° C can impair flower pollination and consequently seed production.


Lima beans need high light, with direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day.


Cultivate in well-drained, fertile soil and rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5.6 and 7.

Nitrogen-rich soils or nitrogen-rich fertilization allow plants to grow more, but there is usually no increase in the production of pods and seeds. In addition, this plant forms a symbiotic association with bacteria known as rhizobia or rhizobium, capable of fixing nitrogen in the air in the soil such as ammonia or nitrate, thus providing the necessary nitrogen for the plant and further enriching the soil with this nutrient.


Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked.


Sow the seeds directly in the final location of the garden, at a depth of 2 cm to 3 cm. Optionally, lima beans can be sown in small pots or cups made of newsprint, and transplanted when they are between 10 and 15 cm tall.

Some lima bean cultivars are climbing plants that can reach up to 4 m in height, and other cultivars are small. The spacing for large cultivars can be 75 to 100 cm between planting lines, and 30 to 50 cm between plants. For small cultivars, the spacing can be 45 to 60 cm between rows, and 30 to 50 cm between plants.

Any type of cultivar can be planted in large pots. Small cultivars can be planted in medium-sized pots (20 to 25 cm in diameter, with greater depth).


The tall lima bean cultivars are climbers and need a support at least 2 m high, such as bamboo poles, wooden poles, fences, trellises or arbor. Small cultivars do not need staking.

Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources.


The harvesting of the pods starts 85 to 110 days after sowing, varying according to the cultivar planted and the cultivation conditions. The pods are harvested when well developed, but still young and tender to get seeds that are still green, or already totally dry to get seeds that are fully ripe. There are cultivars with white, black, red, orange and burst seeds.

You should not eat raw lima beans, as they contain linamarin, a cyanogenic glycoside. Cooked, lima beans do not cause problems and are very nutritious.

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